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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Expansion of Christian Spain in the Thirteenth Century

Interesting map showing the expansion of the Christian kingdoms (Castile, Portugal, Aragon) in the early thirteenth century following the defeat of the Almohads and Andalusi Muslims at the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa (1212)


Poem by al-Farazdaq (d. 730) about Zayn al-Abideen Ali ibn al-Husayn (d. 712)

Imam Zayn al-Abidin (A.S.) went to the Mecca to perform the Hajj pilgrimage. Meanwhile Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik (the crown-prince of the Umayyad dynasty at the time) went there for the same purpose. Hisham tried his best to reach the Kaaba but he was unable to do that, for the people were overcrowded around it. Every time he would try pushing and forcing his way through – he would be pushed back by the crowd circulating around the Kaaba. He decided to give up and wait till the crowd became less so would be able to go through with ease. A pulpit was installed and he sat on it. He began looking at the crowds of the people from above. Then Imam Zayn al-Abidin (A.S.) came to perform his circulation of the Kaaba. When the pilgrims saw him, they were astonished at his humble solemnity and the glow of piety on his face, the face was similar to that of his grandfather,Prophet Muhammad, may God bless him and his family.

The people were shouting: “There is no god but God! God is great!” – With great respect – they parted, made way for him and allowed him to pass through to kiss the Kaaba. The Syrians were astonished when they saw that situation. The pilgrims saw the people did not receive Hisham, the nominated caliph after his father, warmly though the Syrians honored him and the Caliph’s guards surrounded him.

One of Hisham’s companions from Syria asked him: “Who is that man whom the people have honored very much?” Hisham was hurt and pretended not to know the Imam and angrily, shouted at the man, saying: “I do not know him!

The great Arab poet Al-Farazdaq was there. He knew that Hisham was lying. He could not control himself at this insult to the great Imam. Thus, he said to the Syrians: “I know him.” “Who is he, Abu Firas?” The Syrians asked. Hisham shouted at al-Farazdaq, “I do not know him!” “Yes, you know him.” replied al-Farazdaq. Then he rose and composed the following poem whose effect was stronger than the hitting of the swords and the stabbing of the spears against Hisham.

He said (translation of the poem):

This is the son of Husayn and the grandson of Fatima the daughter of the Apostle through whom the darkness dispersed.

This is he whose ability the valley (of Mecca) recognizes, He is known by the (Sacred) House and the Holy sanctuary and the lands outside the sanctuary.

This is the son of the best of God”s servants.

This is the pure pious man, the pure eminent man. When the Quraysh saw him, their spokesman said: Liberality terminates at the outstanding qualities of this (man).

He belongs to the top of glory which the Arabs of Islam and non-Arabs fall short of reaching.

When he comes to touch the wall of the Kaaba, it almost grasps the palm of his hand.

He takes care to be modest and he is protected from his fears.

He only speaks when he smiles.

There is a cane in his hand. Its smell is fragrant from the hand of the most wonderful (of all the people), who is proud.

The prophets yielded to his grandfather’s favor.

The nations yielded to the favor of his community.

The light of guidance emanates from the light of his forehead.

He is like the sun whose shining disperses darkness.

His family tree belongs to the Apostle of God.

Its elements, its natures, and its qualities are good.

This is the son of Fatima if you do not recognize him.

His grandfather was the seal of Prophethood.

God honored and favored him from antiquity.

Your words ‘ who is this?’ do not harm him.

All the Arabs and non-Arabs recognize him whom you deny.

Both his hands are relief.

Their advantage has prevailed.

The hands are just.

Nonexistence does not befall them.

He is the carrier of the burdens of the people when they are oppressed.

His qualities are good.

The ‘ yes’ is sweet with him.

He does not break a promise.

His soul is blessed.

His courtyard is wide.

He is intelligent when he decides.

He is from the people whose love is religion, whose hate is unbelief, whose approach is refuge and protection.

If the God-fearing are numbered, they are their Imams.

If it is said who are the best of the earth, it is said they are.

No generous man can reach their far purpose.

No people, though generous, can compete with them (for generosity).

They are rain when a crisis happens.

They are lions when fear becomes intense.

Poverty does not decrease the relief from their hands.

That is the same, whether they are rich or poor.

Misfortune and tribulation are driven away through their love.

Kindness and the blessings are regained through it.

In every affair their praise is after the praise of God.

The speech is ended by it.

Abasement refuses to stop at their space.

Their natures are noble, and their hands are full of liberality.

None of mankind has within their souls such primacy as he does or such grace as he does.

Whoever knows God, knows His friend. Our Religion came from the House of this man.

Hisham was so furious at al-Farazdaq after hearing this poem, he ordered that he should be imprisoned in Asfan, located between Mecca and Medina. In prison, he continued to write poetry in favor of the Ahl al-Bayt. Imam Zayn al-Abidin sent some money to al-Farazdaq, since he was in the prison and had no means of earning his livelihood. Al-Farazdaq didn’t accept it and said that he had recited the poem only to please God. The Imam insisted and sent him the money saying: “God Almighty is well aware of your intention, and will reward you appropriately. If you accept this money, it shall not reduce your reward from God.” And he urged al-Farazdaq to accept the gift and finally al-Farazdaq accepted it.

هَذا الّذي تَعرِفُ البَطْحاءُ وَطْأتَهُ،          وَالبَيْتُ يعْرِفُهُ وَالحِلُّ وَالحَرَمُ
هذا ابنُ خَيرِ عِبادِ الله كُلّهِمُ،           هذا التّقيّ النّقيّ الطّاهِرُ العَلَمُ
هذا ابنُ فاطمَةٍ، إنْ كُنْتَ جاهِلَهُ،                 بِجَدّهِ أنْبِيَاءُ الله قَدْ خُتِمُوا
وَلَيْسَ قَوْلُكَ: مَن هذا؟ بضَائرِه،     العُرْبُ تَعرِفُ من أنكَرْتَ وَالعَجمُ
كِلْتا يَدَيْهِ غِيَاثٌ عَمَّ نَفعُهُمَا،          يُسْتَوْكَفانِ، وَلا يَعرُوهُما عَدَمُ
سَهْلُ الخَلِيقَةِ، لا تُخشى بَوَادِرُهُ،      يَزِينُهُ اثنانِ: حُسنُ الخَلقِ وَالشّيمُ
حَمّالُ أثقالِ أقوَامٍ، إذا افتُدِحُوا،          حُلوُ الشّمائلِ، تَحلُو عندَهُ نَعَمُ
ما قال: لا قطُّ، إلاّ في تَشَهُّدِهِ،            لَوْلا التّشَهّدُ كانَتْ لاءَهُ نَعَمُ
عَمَّ البَرِيّةَ بالإحسانِ، فانْقَشَعَتْ       عَنْها الغَياهِبُ والإمْلاقُ والعَدَمُ
إذ رَأتْهُ قُرَيْشٌ قال قائِلُها:           إلى مَكَارِمِ هذا يَنْتَهِي الكَرَمُ
يُغْضِي حَياءً، وَيُغضَى من مَهابَتِه،                 فَمَا يُكَلَّمُ إلاّ حِينَ يَبْتَسِمُ
بِكَفّهِ خَيْزُرَانٌ رِيحُهُ عَبِقٌ،     من كَفّ أرْوَعَ، في عِرْنِينِهِ شمَمُ
يَكادُ يُمْسِكُهُ عِرْفانَ رَاحَتِهِ،        رُكْنُ الحَطِيمِ إذا ما جَاءَ يَستَلِمُ
الله شَرّفَهُ قِدْماً، وَعَظّمَهُ،         جَرَى بِذاكَ لَهُ في لَوْحِهِ القَلَمُ
أيُّ الخَلائِقِ لَيْسَتْ في رِقَابِهِمُ،                  لأوّلِيّةِ هَذا، أوْ لَهُ نِعمُ
مَن يَشكُرِ الله يَشكُرْ أوّلِيّةَ ذا؛        فالدِّينُ مِن بَيتِ هذا نَالَهُ الأُمَمُ
يُنمى إلى ذُرْوَةِ الدّينِ التي قَصُرَت    عَنها الأكفُّ، وعن إدراكِها القَدَمُ
مَنْ جَدُّهُ دان فَضْلُ الأنْبِياءِ لَهُ؛           وَفَضْلُ أُمّتِهِ دانَتْ لَهُ الأُمَمُ
مُشْتَقّةٌ مِنْ رَسُولِ الله نَبْعَتُهُ،      طَابَتْ مَغارِسُهُ والخِيمُ وَالشّيَمُ
يَنْشَقّ ثَوْبُ الدّجَى عن نورِ غرّتِهِ     كالشمس تَنجابُ عن إشرَاقِها الظُّلَمُ
من مَعشَرٍ حُبُّهُمْ دِينٌ، وَبُغْضُهُمُ       كُفْرٌ، وَقُرْبُهُمُ مَنجىً وَمُعتَصَمُ
مُقَدَّمٌ بعد ذِكْرِ الله ذِكْرُهُمُ،      في كلّ بَدْءٍ، وَمَختومٌ به الكَلِمُ
إنْ عُدّ أهْلُ التّقَى كانوا أئِمّتَهمْ،     أوْ قيل: «من خيرُ أهل الأرْض؟» قيل: هم
لا يَستَطيعُ جَوَادٌ بَعدَ جُودِهِمُ،        وَلا يُدانِيهِمُ قَوْمٌ، وَإنْ كَرُمُوا
هُمُ الغُيُوثُ، إذا ما أزْمَةٌ أزَمَتْ،     وَالأُسدُ أُسدُ الشّرَى، وَالبأسُ محتدمُ
لا يُنقِصُ العُسرُ بَسطاً من أكُفّهِمُ؛    سِيّانِ ذلك: إن أثَرَوْا وَإنْ عَدِمُوا
يُستدْفَعُ الشرُّ وَالبَلْوَى بحُبّهِمُ،        وَيُسْتَرَبّ بِهِ الإحْسَانُ وَالنِّعَمُ

(Source: Ali Hujwiri (d. 1077), Kashf al-Mahjub)



Cantiga 181 from the Cantigas de Santa Maria

Cantiga 181, Codex Rico, Ms TI1. Biblioteca de El Escorial

The Moroccan army of king Umar al-Murtada routs a rival army of Moroccans under Abū Yūsuf, emir of Benimerines, at Marrakech.

The King of Marrakech was at war with another king.
The other king had crossed the Morabe River with a huge army and had laid siege to the city.
The king of Marrakech was advised to go out from the city with his best warriors to do battle. He was to take the banner of Holy Mary and to be accompanied by Christians carrying crosses.
The King followed this advice, and when the banner of Holy Mary was unfurled, the army of the other king was defeated. Many of his men were killed and they lost their tents and possessions.
Others, seeing the banner and crosses, fled in great haste.
In this way, the Virgin helped her friends, even though they were of another faith.


Famous Historical Muslims of African/Black Origin

Islamic civilization currently encompasses every culture, ethnicity, race, and language on the planet. The pages of Islamic history are filled with the emergence of many different ethno-linguistic groups, from regions as far apart as West Africa and Central Asia, as important political and cultural forces, which greatly impacted the direction of Islamic civilization. Unfortunately, despite this reality, Muslim history has often been presented as a series of accomplishments revolving around Arabs, Persians, and Turks, to the exclusion of all other groups. The rich histories of hundreds of Muslim ethnic, racial, and linguistic groups have too often been overlooked or overshadowed by this mistaken approach towards Muslim history and expropriated by the master narrative which seeks to identify Muslim history with a very specific cultural and geographic context.  (more…)

Islamic World (ca. 945)


Martyrdom of al-Husayn ibn Ali (d.680) in Arabic Historical Chronicles (700-1500 A.D.)

Some useful Arabic chronicles to consult for details about the massacre at Karbala (680 A.D.):

Abu Mikhnaf, Maqtal al-Ḥusayn (preserved in al-Ṭabarī)

–Written ca. 740; proto-Shi’ite perspective

Abū Ja‘far Muḥammad ibn Jarīr al-Tabari, Tārīkh al-Rusul wal Mulūk

–Written ca. 900; various perspectives

Aḥmad ibn Yaḥya al-Balādhurī, Ansāb al-Ashrāf

–Written ca. 880-890; Sunni perspective


Ayatollah Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah on Cursing the Companions of the Prophet

The Religious Authority, Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah (ra):  We forbid cursing, slandering, and abusing the mothers of believers and deem such acts as contradicting with the genuine Islamic line

The opinions and Fatwas of His Eminence, the Religious Authority, Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah (ra), have always constituted a unifying Islamic stand which always confirmed that Muslims should be aware of the danger of inciting and fueling seditions and sectarian sensitivities that would only rip their reality apart and serve the schemes and projects of the nation’s enemies. Therefore, His Eminence forbade cursing and slandering the mothers of believers and the companions, considering that such acts contradict with the course of the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) which necessitates giving priority to the supreme Islamic interest over any personal or secondary interests.

Following is an excerpt of an interview conducted by the Saudi daily, “Okaz”, with His Eminence on the issue of cursing and slandering the companions and mothers of believers, on Safar 28th, 1429 H., March 6th, 2008 A.D.